Friday, August 17, 2012

Being Deposed: Tips for Testifying Under Oath

Nervous about an upcoming deposition?

Here are a few pointers to get you on track and prepared.

While being deposed most people fell the urge to argue their case- don't.  The more you talk, the more ammunition you give to the opposing counsel to use.

If the question being asked can be responded to with a simple "yes" or "no" answer it in a complete sentence describing what it is that you are saying yes or no to so that your short responses cannot be used agaisnt you.

Be honest.  As a witness if you discredit yourself even once you could lose all of your credibility.  If you don't remember something exactly let them know that you don't recall.  Don't fabricate an answer just to provide a response.

If you don't understand what is being asked of you- say something!  Don't respond with an answer to a question that was not asked, ask them to reword their question or to elaborate on specifics of what is being asked.

If you need to you the bathroom, take a break, or get a glass of water- say something! Just keep in mind that you have to finish the last question that was asked of you before you are allowed to take a break.

Don't blurt out the first thing that pops into your head.  Think for a few moments.  This time allows your attorney to think of grounds for objection and allows you to lay your response out in your head so that when you do speak you won't trip over your words or have to correct yourself.

If anyone looks confused about your answer to not take that to mean that you have to elaborate.  Only clarify your response when you're asked to.

Don't be 100% definitive.  If you're asked to produce each or every instance of an event make sure you end your statement with a qualifier like "As of right now that's the best I can recall the events."

Don't explain your train of thought or how you arrived to a response.  Again, it is not in your best interest to disclose more information than they ask for.

Since you are in fact being honest never classify your responses with "honestly, I..." or "truthfully, I..." It makes it seem as though you were not honest in previous answers.

Be honest.  As a witness if you discredit yourself even once you could lose all of your credibility.  If you don't remember something exactly let them know that you don't recall.  Don't fabricate an answer just to provide a response.

We Know the Ins and Outs of Military Divorce Law

As the majority of our troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and coming home to their families many have realized that much has changed since their departure overseas.  Unfortunately because of life changing shifts in responsibilities around the house and at work it is not uncommon that servicemen and servicewomen or their spouses find themselves unable to relate to the people that they previously felt they knew the most.

This inability to relate to each other unfortunately puts an immense amount of stress on the relationship and usually leads to irreconcilable differences, separation, temporary support (Pendente Lite support), temporary and permanent custody and eventually- divorce.

Here at the Law Firm of Marilyn Ann Solomon & Associates we understand your unique needs and concerns as servicemen and servicewomen who have served our country in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.  We are one of the most knowledgeable, experienced and straightforward law firms in the Winchester area.

As a member of the military you have specific rights and unique protections that need to be looked after properly.  We can complete an uncontested divorce in just 3 to 6 weeks for the low flat fee of $495!

Give us a call at (540) 678-0569 and let us serve you as you have served our country.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Everyone who likes the Law Firm of Marilyn Ann Solomon, past and future, will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 VISA card. The drawing will be on September 10, 2012 at noon at my office located at 130 E. Cork Street, Winchester, Virginia. You do not need to be present to win. The winner will be contacted through their Facebook user name. So please "like" the firm and get your chance to WIN $100!!!

Here's the Facebook link:!/marilynasolomon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We won an interesting case this week involving two parents had a written agreement in 2007 that the father would deed to the mother the former marital home in exchange for $300.00 per month credit towards his child support obligation for 7 years for a total of $25,200. He deeded the house to her.
Four years later, the mother sued the father for contempt and child support arrearages for the $300.00... per month. She asked the court to put him in jail for not paying the child support. The Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court held the father in contempt and found he had a child support arrearage for the full amount since 2004. The Warren County Circuit Court found dad was entitled to credit for the entire $25,200 amount pursuant to the parties' Agreement and that the father was not in contempt. The issue was whether the father was entitled to pay his child support with equity in a house instead of cash.
The court said the mother had to honor the agreement as she had the house which was also a home for the parties' child.
Another interesting case we won this week was a medical malpractice case. In that case, the patient went to the hospital having terrible back pain. She was given medicine in tbe ambulance. The doctor told the nurses to give her medicine through a shot in the muscle, but a new nurse made a mistake and gave it to her in the vein. This caused the patient to go into respitatory failure from a drug overdose and almost die. She had to be admitted to the hospital. We sued and after many discovery motions, the hospital finally settled the case.
We also won a trial in bankruptcy court. In that case, the client had stock in a club that owned hunting land. He claimed the stock was a "family heirloom" and the creditors challenged whether stock could be an heirloom. The client testified that he and his father hunted on that land when he was a child and it was filled with sentimental memories. He planned to pass the stock and hunting rights to his own child. The bankruptcy judge ruled that the stock was a family heirloom and he was entitled to exempt it from his bankruptcy estate.
We also settled a major car accident case last week. In that case, the elderly client was injured in a car accident coming back from church. She broke her wrist and her pelvis. While recovering, she was in so much pain the doctor prescribed her Ambien to sleep. She had a sleep walking episode on the Ambien, fell and broke her back causing permanent injuries and disability. The insurance company argued that the injuries from the Ambien accident were not related to the initial accident, but we proved they were and the client received the substantial policy limits.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where to look for hidden assets before a divorce

Many times, people plan for a divorce for a long time. Often one spouse, often the wife, knows very little about the family's finances. Do they have investments? She doesn't know. Do they own stock? She doesn't know. Does her husband have a pension? She doesn't know. Often, valuable assets are not distributed to the wife because she doesn't know they exist and more often then not, the husband or the one hiding the assets, lies about it in the divorce so the assets are not discovered.

Here are some practical ways to see if financial information or assets are being hidden from you or to make sure you know what you have. First, NEVER sign a tax return without reviewing it. How much income is your spouse making? Is there ANY money indicated as income in the "interest and dividend" section? If so, there are investments of some kind. Are there any schedules attached to the tax return that you are not familiar with like Schedule C for businesses or K-1s for partnerships? Make a copy of each years tax return and keep it in a safe place. I suggest you let a family member or friend hold this type of important fnancial information.

Second, review your bank statements. Make sure you understand each transactions. Are regular monthly payments going to an entity you are unfamiliar with? Places like T Rowe Price, Fidelity, E Trade, Vanguard and others may indicate stock or mutual fund purchases. Look at your spouses paychecks. Is he or she investing in anything?

You may think your spouse does not have a pension because you have never seen a statement for it. Most companies do NOT send annual pension statements. They may never send any at all. Yet a pension is often the single most valuable asset in a marriage. If your spouse is entitled to just $500 per month, that amounts to $6,000 per year over an average 20 years or $120,000. One-half of that money may be yours. The marital share is one-half of the amount accumulated over the marriage.

NEVER sign any kind of written agreement without consulting an attorney first. You may be waiving your right to a pension or investment that you don't even know exists. You can google where your spouse works and see if they offera pension. Also, sometimes there is a statement for a pension like with the Virginia Retirement System and it shows a "cash value." Bear in mind that the "cash value" often has little relationship to the actual value. In the example above showing $120,000, the cash value may be $15,000. There is no comparison between the cash value and the pay out amounts, so if it exists you need to know and understand what the pension benefits are before deciding whether you are waiving them or getting your share.

If your spouse is secretive about his or her income or finances, there is usually a reason. If your spouse is self-employed and shows little taxable income but spends a lot paying bills etc. then he or she is probably hiding money. Try to pay attention to the financial aspects of the marriage so you have a good idea of what you own should a divorce or even a death occur. Again, never sign anything without seeing an attorney and finding out what your rights are. I can't emphasize how many hundreds of clients I have counseled that have no idea how much property their spouse has even though they have been married a long time.

transfering property before filing bankruptcy

Many people give away property and then see an attorney about filing bankrutpcy. If you give away property or sell it to a relative for less than value and then file bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will take the property away from the person you gave it to, sell it, and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. The court can go back two years for these kinds of transfers and, in some cases, up to five years. Many times, I can protect your property in bankruptcy if you do not transfer it. Once you give it away or sell it cheap to a family member, it becomes fair game for the creditors, and I cannot protect it for you. If you are thinking of filing bankruptcy, see an attorney BEFORE deciding whether or not to give away property. You may even want to do some long-term planning in this type of situation.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What do do when creditors send you a 1099 for debts you discharged in bankruptcy

Sometimes when people have debts discharged in bankruptcy, their creditors send them a 1099 showing the discharged debt as income. I have noticed that many accountants do not know that this is NOT income pursuant to federal law. 26 United States Code Section 108(A) (1) excludes from income debts that are discharged by bankruptcy. It also excludes debts that were forgiven by the creditors, in whole or in part, to the extent the person was insolvent. I constantly see clients with tax returns showing large amounts owed to the IRS or Virginia Department of Taxation after a bankrutpcy discharge for "forgiven debts." These are not forgiven debts. They are discharged debts, and they are NOT TAXABLE. If you have any questions about whether or not your should pay taxes on these kind of debts, ask a bankruptcy attorney, not an accountant. Apparently, many of them are not aware of the law and give incorrect advice.